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Monday, July 16, 2007

Place cells

Dylan has great place cells. These are neurons in the hippocampus that fire when an animal (or person) is in a specific spatial environment. We've noticed some things recently that have astounded us:

1) Dylan knows when we are close to Taco Bell when we are driving around town, and will say his word for taco, which is "pow-k," (over and over) to indicate his desire for a tasty, nutritious dog-meat taco. Yeah, you know your family is eating WAY too much Taco Bell when your two-year-old can identify the streets around the local drive-thru.

2) He knows when we are even remotely close to a certain tunnel on the 710 freeway here in LA. We sometimes honk the horn when we are going through it, so he yells "beep, beep!" when he senses we are near it.

3) This one is cool. We go for walks in our neighborhood sometimes, and they are often quite long and take us over 2 miles from our house and often end when it is pretty dark out. On our way back, when we are still many blocks away and have several left and right turns to go before we get home, we will be very upset if we turn in any direction away from home.

The other thing he can do, though not exactly a spatial awareness task, is he can recognize any Volkswagen on the road. At first we though he was just recognizing the shape and pattern of the logo on the front of the car, but he can recognize it just by the shapes and contours of the metal (we know this because he has often pointed out a Jetta or Passat - being those are the cars we have - when the logo is covered by another car on the road). When he sees a VW, he declares "a-daddy," indicating for us that there is a daddy-car until we acknowledge this fact for him. It's pretty remarkable.

I'm sure you have gathered by now that this is being written by the resident nerd, err, neuroscientist in the family. Aren't kids amazing!?

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That's neat how much he is catching onto all ready. It's so amazing! I can't believe Simone is all ready a year. We want to see you soon. It's just hard since our schedules don't match well. Your off weekends and Darren works weekends.


I can't believe how much he has been talking lately too! That whole left hemisphere much be growing like crazy!


Very cool. The nerd stuff is okay. I do it, too. It never ceases to amaze the stuff that kids pick up, remember, learn, and just plain already know... I always want to help and it usually turns out that I don't need to.


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